LPN Requirements For Certification Explained

A professional Licensed Practical Nurse or LPN takes care of the sick, injured, disabled, and convalescent. LPN’s usually operate under the direction of a Doctor or a Registered Nurse (RN). LPNs also supervise one or more Nursing Assistants or Nurse’s Aides and are categorized between a Nursing Assistant and RN. LPN’s offer less complicated, routine patient care opposed to an RN, who performs more complicated functions. LPN requirements thus differ, depending on whether the candidate is fresh out of high school or a Nursing Assistant ready to advance careers.

LPN programs last a year on average and can be undertaken in hospitals and specialized colleges. When conducted in a hospital, new nurses will undergo an orientation period to introduce the hospital philosophy, routines, shifts and procedures. LPN requirements include working in the Emergency Room (ER), Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Cardiac Care Unit (CCU), Operating Room (OR), and Outpatient.

LPNs also work in private practice medical offices, clinics, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) surgical centers and emergency medical facilities as well as Nursing Homes and other private and public health facilities. State to state LPN requirements will be limited compared to an RN when it comes to licensing and other factors.

LPNs will be expected to;

  • Measure and record patient information such as height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, and pulse.
  • Dress wounds, monitor catheters, give enemas, injections, collect samples, and perform laboratory tests.
  • Perform basic bedside patient care to help keep the patient comfortable such as assisting with bathing, moving inside and outside of the bed, and personal hygiene.
  • Feed patients who need help and record food and fluid intake for example.
  • Lastly, LPN requirements include sharing observations and information with registered nurses, doctors, and facility staff as needed to best care for the patient.

An LPN will be on their feet for extended periods working 40-hour week with 24-hour care split into mornings, days, nights, weekends and holidays. Environmental job hazards include disease, chemicals, workload related stress, injections, radiation exposure and possible injury sustained from uncooperative or confused patients.

A state approved training program is included in LPN requirements and needs to be completed as well as passing a standard cross- state sponsored practical nurse licensing exam known as the NCLEX-PN, developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). This exam is computer based covering 4 subject areas namely:

  • safe effective care environment;
  • health promotion and maintenance;
  • psychosocial integrity; and
  • physiological integrity.

LPN Requirements: Exam and Certification

LPN examination in the form of the NCLEX exam requires one exam for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN) and one for practical nurses (NCLEX-PN). Both require a fee and the number of questions vary from person to person, depending on performance. Questions are posed until such time that the test-taker qualifies.
LPN requirements explained
Both exam questions cover topics such as keeping patients and nurses safe through accident prevention, the use of ergonomic principles and correctly handling infectious items as well as patent care in the case of stressful situations such as abuse, loss, mental illness or chemical dependency. In addition, LPN requirements and other exam takers must identify appropriate use of medications, calculate doses and recognize adverse effects.

The American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC) offer a list of certifications in diverse specialty areas such as pediatrics, psychiatric care and diabetes management. The ANCC is a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and offer internationally renowned credentialing programs certify nurses in specialty practice areas; recognize healthcare organizations for promoting safe, positive work environments through their certified programs and accredit providers of continuing nursing education.

Another professional organization assisting with ensuring that official LPN requirements are met is the National League for Nursing (NLN). The NLN offers certification for nurse educators and is the preferred membership organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education. NLN members include nurse educators, education agencies, health care agencies, and interested members of the public. The NLN also offers faculty development programs, networking opportunities, testing and assessment, nursing research grants, and public policy initiatives to its 33,000 individual and 1,200 institutional members.

LPN requirements for career advancement post this course certification in the case of earning degrees and obtaining RN licensing nurse practitioners (and other advanced practice nurses) may need to undergo an additional process of certification, determined by the state in which they work. Certification allows the advanced nurse to perform more specific care, depending on the state’s regulations. Such an example includes certified nurse practitioners being able to prescribe medications or even serve as a patient’s primary health care provider.

Visiting the local state board of nursing website and the links provided for understanding LPN requirements will assist in gaining verification for state approved PN/LPN/RN programs and NCLEX-PN/RN licensing exams. LPN jobs are expected to grow faster than average through 2016 according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Median annual earnings were $36,550 as of May 2006 varying from state to state with the lowest 10% of LPN nurses earning under $26,380 while the highest 10% earn over $50,480.

Comprehensive Online Resources

In order to ensure full compliance with LPN requirements, it is recommended to engage with an LPN at a nearby facility as well as potential employers. About nursing.com for example, groups Nursing by state for easy review of available nursing programs and nursing degrees. Before applying to a school, local state boards of nursing web sites will guide candidates to credible colleges. Each local board will be responsible for issuing nursing licenses.

For meeting the correct LPN requirements, it is best to visit more than one nursing school web site where various nursing programs and degrees will offer a greater variety of information. About nursing offers guidance on how to navigate these state boards from Alabama to Wyoming. There are also nursing school brochures and applications available. Some private colleges and universities may have waiting lists and schools of nursing tuition may be more expensive than community college and state nursing schools.

Online nursing schools and self-study based challenge nursing exams can be employed as a cost cutting options for LPN requirements and have certain advantages when it comes to classroom attendance versus working and studying via a flexible schedule. Prospective employee viability may be somewhat compromised by where the certification has been obtained, ensure which online courses prospective employers are more aligned to. Below is a comprehensive checklist of LPN requirements to consider before applying;

  • Nursing school accreditation (Regional)
  • Nursing program accreditation (CCNE, NLN)
  • Verify school is accredited by the state
  • Verify program is accredited by CCNE, NLN
  • Review nursing job degree requirements
  • Consider savings of state vs private schools
  • Federal and state financial aid programs
  • Scholarships, work study, nursing loans
  • Nursing program to match nursing career goals
  • Online nursing schools available in state
  • Self-study and challenge exams in state
  • Ask nursing co-workers for career advice

When submitting information for application, LPN requirements will include official high school transcript or Graduate Equivalency Diploma (GED). This record must show the completion of mathematics (2 years), General Science as well as English Reading and Comprehension (4 years). Two professional endorsements (employers, professors, principals, and guidance counselors) are also required.

Applicants then undergo Nurse Entrance Exam (NET) and must attain a score of 65 percent in all subjects to be accepted for the LPN requirements program. After passing this entrance exam a personal interview will then take place to ensure that applicants have the physical capability to do their responsibility as practitioners. Students with learning disabilities can also enroll as long as they announce their condition beforehand so the school can afford them additional time to finish the entrance examination. Applicants with learning disability also need to bring a written proof of their condition.

Example: LPN Requirements for South Seattle Community College

South Seattle Community College for example lists courses required for LPN entry, which must be completed before submitting and application.

Course Title Credits
CHEM&121 Intro to Chemistry 5 credits
BIOL&241 Human Anatomy & Physiology 5 credits
BIOL&242 Human Anatomy & Physiology II 5 credits
BIOL&260 Microbiology 5 credits
PSYC&200 Developmental Psychology 5 credits
ENGL&101 English Composition 5 credits
MATH&109 Elementary Statistics (co-requisite) 5 credits


The Transcript department will verify LPN requirements from other colleges classes. Adjunct English as a Second Language courses are available for many of the pre-requisites and a minimum acceptable grade for any pre-requisite course is 2.5.

There is a 7-year time limit on all nursing pre-requisite science courses at SSCC with a 10-year time limit on all non-science pre- and co-requisites. The Nursing Assistant Certified (NAC) Program for example is usually offered four times per year – fall, winter, spring, and summer quarters and is a daytime program only, which covers basic care, following care procedures, controlling infections, safety and emergency preparedness, restorative care, and dealing with death and dying. LPN requirements will differ depending on which institution the applicant is interested in, aside local requirements as designated by prospective employers or certified LPN online resources are available to guide further queries.

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